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L’Appart NYC Review

Christine Drinan, Founder

L'Appart

There’s something about fall that makes us want to go Golden Age in NYC dining. Enter L’Appart, where exec chef Nico wants to make you dinner. He’s certainly got the pedigree, having cut his chops at Daniel in New York and Pierre Gagnaire in London. But that’s where the highbrow ends. L’Appart is short for apartment, so you can feel cozy and right at home as winter approaches. Here’s the L’Appart review.

Overview

When Le District opened in 2015, it was groundbreaking as an upscale, French-inspired food court in Battery Park City. It was a leader with this concept before there was José Andrés’ Mercado Little Spain, or one of the latest to arrive on the scene, Cipriani’s Harry’s Table. What continues to differentiate Le District, even after all these years, is its Michelin-starred restaurant L’Appart. Hidden within the food emporium is an intimate 28-seat restaurant that’s modeled after a French apartment. Here, in my L’Appart review, is my take on this one-star Michelin restaurant.

Atmosphere

The point of L’Appart is to have a Michelin-level dining experience in an environment that doesn’t take itself so seriously. The kitchen is open to the intimate 28 seats, which makes it less formal. After reading the reviews I expected to be bowled over by a so-French-it-hurts décor of a Parisian apartment. Instead, I found the dining room to be not so unique from any other restaurant I’ve been to in Paris. It channeled Guy Savoy to me, which is lovely, but not what I expected. I still wanted to love this place, as gems like Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare are what make NYC so darned special. To be clear, it’s not that the atmosphere at L’Appart was good or bad. I just wasn’t blown away.

Food

When you get a Michelin star, which is very tough in NYC, expectations are naturally high. So for this L’Appart review, the bar was high to begin with. What I like about the L’Appart experience is you can go for the prix fixe at $230 per person, plus $125 for the wine pairing, or go à la carte. You actually make out better with the prix fixe, as the meal turns out to be a nine-course tasting menu with all the bonus goodies. Given that nowadays to eat out is at least $200 for a meal, it’s actually a good value. On the latest seasonal offering, you get everything from caviar with homemade blinis (a highlight of any meal) to frog legs. The menu doesn’t get more French.

So I can’t judge a meal on caviar in this L’Appart review, because while the blinis are homemade, it only takes the skill to open a tin to execute this course. I didn’t the frog legs as they weren’t on the menu the evening I dined. But I will say that I was a bit underwhelmed overall. My fish had a ratatouille sauce that was not memorable, and everything we ate just seemed a little basic. I like that they didn’t butter you to death and that the food was more olive-oil based. But there just wasn’t anything that blew me away. The menu changes every four to six weeks, though, and I really want to like L’Appart. I came in wanting to put it on my special-occasion rotation, but was disappointed post meal that it didn’t make the cut.

Service

When I go to places like L’Appart, I expect service to be as coordinated as a performance at the American Ballet Theater. I got exactly that at L’Appart; meals were served in concert with everyone at the table. Servers beautifully described each dish, and my wine glass (and my water glass for that matter) were never empty. Everyone was warm, welcoming, and personable, as well as passionate about the craft. It was fun to watch the kitchen team work its magic, and there wasn’t an ounce of stuffiness to the experience. In this review of L’Appart, I count service as one of the restaurant’s strongest virtues.

Overall: 6.9/10

The food was good, but nothing to write home about on the first visit. I needed more after having to walk through a food court to get to the dining area. I wouldn’t be opposed to give L’Appart another try down the road, but I’m not high-tailing it back.

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